Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grants

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

In July 2016, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) was awarded $7.8 million in scholarship money for disadvantaged students who will join the University's mission to diversify the healthcare workforce and improve outcomes in underserved communities. It is the largest amount of scholarship money awarded by HRSA to a single university or college in the U.S. this year. The grant money — distributed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) — is available to SMU students entering or enrolled in the following programs: 

The federal assistance, known as the Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program, will be available to students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Each of the above programs will receive $650,000 per year over the next four years for the scholarships. 

The Scholarships Awarded Under the Grant

Under this program, the University will award up to $30,000 per year to each recipient, depending on need. New and continuing students are eligible to receive this scholarship. Because these are federal grant awards and the university receives notice of continuation of the grant each year (see Important Information below), decisions on scholarship recipients are made on a year-to-year basis. A recipient may receive notice of an intent to give the award each year of enrollment, but it will be contingent on continued federal funding in subsequent years.  We cannot guarantee that a recipient in one year will receive funding in subsequent years. Because awards are determined annually and offered to incoming as well as continuing some students may receive the award in one year but not subsequent years and students not eligible one year may become eligible in subsequent years. 

Eligibility Requirements

Awards are made automatically based upon information provided in the application for admission and on the FAFSA. No additional application is needed. Students who are eligible for these scholarships will be able to show that they are from an economically and/or educationally disadvantaged background and have demonstrated financial need. Because eligible programs are graduate programs, students who are at least 24 years old are considered independent and it is their personal income that is the basis for meeting this criteria. Under this grant, the University is required to use federal poverty guidelines to determine whether someone is economically disadvantaged. 

Priority is given to applicants who meet the following criteria:

  1. Comes from an educationally/environmentally disadvantaged background.  Examples include, but are not limited to:
  • First generation in family to attend college
  • Graduate of a high school in which a lower percentage of students go on to college
  • Graduate of a high school with a high percentage of students on free or reduced price lunches.
  1. Comes from a family that was economically disadvantaged.  Examples include, but are not limited to:
  • Received Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
  • Received food aid, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Cal-Fresh (formerly food stamps)
  • Received MediCaid/Medi-Cal
  • History of economic difficulty.
  1. Is a member of an underrepresented minority in health care as defined by HRSA.  These minorities are African-American or Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Asian not with origins in China, Philippine Islands, Japan, Korea, India or Thailand, two or more races other than white and Asian.

Under this grant program, minority status alone is not the only factor in determining if a student is disadvantaged. Disadvantaged students who are from under- represented minorities will receive stronger consideration for these scholarships because Samuel Merritt University is committed to increasing the number of healthcare practitioners who are from under-represented minorities in the profession.

Important Information

The University’s continued receipt of these scholarships is contingent on our ability to meet the program requirements and continued federal funding.  HRSA makes that determination in June each year.  The University will not be able to guarantee funding for 2017-2018 scholarships until the summer of 2017 once HRSA notifies the University that the grant has been renewed for 2017.  The University firmly believes we will meet these requirements and the federal government will continue the program through the 2019-2020 academic year.  However, these awards cannot be guaranteed. 

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